Mechanisms underlying methamphetamine-related dental disease.

J Am Dent Assoc. 2017 Apr 27. pii: S0002-8177(17)30206-4. doi: 10.1016/j.adaj.2017.02.054. [Epub ahead of print]


The authors clarified the causal mechanisms underlying the high prevalence of dental disease encountered in people who habitually use methamphetamine (meth).


Using a stratified sampling approach, the authors conducted comprehensive oral examinations and psychosocial assessments for 571 study participants who used meth. Three calibrated dentists, who used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) protocols, characterized the study participants' dental disease. The authors also collected data related to study participants' history of meth use and other attributes linked to dental disease.


Study participants who used meth manifested higher rates of xerostomia and caries experience compared with NHANES control participants. Participants who used meth had a higher level of daily consumption of sugary beverages compared with NHANES control participants. Smoking meth did not increase caries experience over other modes of intake. Dental hygiene was a significant determinant of dental health outcomes.


Mode of intake and frequency of meth use have a minimal impact on dental health outcomes. Behaviors, such as sugary beverage consumption and poor oral hygiene, better explain dental health outcomes.


Having a better understanding of the causal mechanisms of "meth mouth" sets the stage for clinicians to provide more personalized interventions and management of dental disease in people who use meth.


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